24-Hours in Steel City, Pittsburgh
A STORY OF MY TRAVEL AFTER LOSING MY JOB BACK IN 2018.
"Here we go"
Booked an eight-hour bus with expectations of a dreadful experience.
My friends strongly urged me to take an alternative mode of transportation from their experience with the bus. I insisted and wanted to experience it myself.
I arrived at the pick-up point at 8:30AM. Lined up with other passengers by the curbside of 34th Street -Hudson Yard Subway. Cold chills flowed through my spine from the icy winter wind as I waited in line. The bus looked like a heavily wrapped promotional piece that screamed "CHEAP, FREE, COMFORTABLE, 24 PACK CRAYONS".
Sitting inside made me feel like one of the tourists in one of those Hop-On, Hop-Off buses. Honestly, the bus driver just needed to wear that red hat and it would be. I booked my trip going to Pittsburgh with a front row seat on the second floor of this double-decker, wide-window view which made the experience better.
A few minutes later, someone sat next to me. A student, I believe, since the bus stopped at a state college before Pittsburgh. I tried to talk to her but she completely disconnected herself from her surroundings. Headphones in, sunglasses, hood up, and back facing me. So I thought, maybe my breath stinks? Or maybe she one of those people who is convinced that bus rides are dreadful.
I hoped it was that. I tried to keep my distance and to avoid disturbing her.
After one hour of driving, we were finally out of New York. As I started to see the long highway at New Jersey, I reflected on the crazy changes in my life from January 2019. Even with the crazy happenings in 2018, I persevered and pursued a minimalist lifestyle, figured out my passion, and found love in my career.
During the bus ride, I wrote five things that I am very passionate about and makes me smile and makes me happy by just thinking about it.
#1 Always looking for new opportunities
I am a strong believer that we can only find a career that we are passionate about by taking opportunities that are presented to us.
That's the only way we really know what we want to do in our short time in this world. Here's an example based on my experience. I had just found out all those three things that define who I am: minimalism, passion, and career.
But where I was working gave me the feeling of comfort but I felt like I wanted to do more and when I start to feel comfortable but not showing my potential, I worry that I will be stuck in that limbo for my whole life.
I feel like a 40-year old that still lives with my parents. I also wasn't actively looking for other jobs because I was scared of the probability that the company I moved to next won't be as comfortable as the one I was in. So I looked for a sign. To take that leap of faith and take the risk.
A few days later, I got laid off due to insufficient budget along with a few of my close co-workers.
I was worried but immensely happy.
I was given a sign to go and take the risk because now I don't have anywhere to go back to. From then on, I kept this mindset of always going forward in my life and keeping an open mind for better opportunities that will let me grow stronger.
#2 Stay hungry. Keep learning. Write.
I am not the best writer but I love to tell my tale and experiences. The only way for me to improve my writing is to take a risk.
Reading other people's blogs and thoughts will gradually improve the way I write and how to tell my story.
Write it, proofread it, then post it.
Take heavy feedback from readers and keep going. The only way to be a strong individual and a great storyteller is to take hits and recover from it.
#3 Keep traveling and document it.
Traveling for me is the most important activity in my life and I want to show it. I love to tell my travel stories and influence people to see the world. By writing it, taking pictures and videos to show my experience will encourage me to keep doing what I love and inspire others.
I believe traveling is one of the biggest things that will keep us open-minded to different beliefs and cultures. Even if you don't document it, just experiencing it will make you a better person.
So to my friend who always wanted to see Arizona. Go and see it!
Minimalism had always been in the back of my mind but never pursued it. I was always a maximalist, I want to surround myself by things that will create a fun persona when my friends and family visit me.
I want to showcase myself as the most interesting friend you will ever meet. But it only distracted me to what I really want to do. I would always get the latest gadgets to show that I am up to date with technology. I would keep things that I used to do to show that I am talented like painting supplies and old film cameras.
I created a fictional persona of what I want people to see me as but never gave me happiness. I knew that I should stop lying to myself. So I donated or threw them out to keep me from being distracted and only kept the things that I am passionate about.
#5 Do something else.
I am a very driven individual that I am constantly thinking of ideas and motivating myself to do more the next day.
But there are days that it gets overwhelming for me. So I needed to do something that will distract me from this constant drive to learn something different.Something that doesn't have to be beneficial to my career or passion. But something that I can enjoy.
And one of the things I really want to do is to study a new language because I believe that you learn a lot from culture through their language.
Two hours in the bus ride, all I felt was calm. I always enjoyed a great drive with a great view.
I had bought two books for the trip to use my time wisely. One about minimalism and another about motivation and drive, so I can learn about how other people find motivation.
You're probably wondering, why Pittsburgh? Did I do one of those world roulette where I close my eyes, spin the globe and hope I don't land on water?
It's my third time in this city but my first time with a clear mind. I always described Pittsburgh as my getaway home. My friend from high school lives in Pittsburgh with her family.
They always welcomed me to their home with their fluffy dog, Lacey.
Eight hours later I finally arrived in Pittsburgh. My friend picked me up with their old but sturdy mini-van, Betsy. She gave me a hug and immediately updated each other.
One year overdue.
A little backstory to our relationship. We were high school buddies. Our group would always be together during a break and just enjoy each other's companies. Then my friend and I moved to Illinois at the same time after high school but in different towns for College.
Even though we update each other every three to four months it still feels amazing that we were just miles apart and could easily see each other when we needed company.
She asked me if there is any place I would like to visit in Pittsburgh. But the truth is that I just wanted to see her and her family. I told her that we could walk around and visit places that are very "Pittsburgh-y" and eat at places that she loves to go to.
My visit to Pittsburgh was very gloomy. All you can see is gray fog and a hint of yellow and green from the bridges. I knew it was going to be gloomy but I went anyway because I know that the light I’m finding isn’t the sun, it’s from the people living in my friend’s house.
Our first destination is Point State Park where the two rivers meet and turn into the Ohio River.
My friend would tell me that the park is a lot better during the summer because the fountains will be working, and the lights would dance during the night.
I could imagine this place to be full of people having picnics and celebrations during the summer.
The park also overlooks the football and baseball stadiums along with the bright yellow steel bridges.
It would be an amazing night show if there is ever a game in the stadiums and loud crowd cheers.
Being in a place when it isn’t its ‘peak’ is no different than when it is, sometimes it’s even better because your imagination roams crazily to envision the possibilities of the park.
Lights, cheers, and positive vibes.
“Yeah, it would be nice here” I replied.
I gave her a smile and said “Next time I’ll see what it should look like” as I step on the muddy ground.
A lot of people travel during the warmer season. Not just because there is more vacation time but because of places like these blooms brighter. But traveling is about being and appreciating that you are there in whatever condition.
As my friend and I walk around downtown Pittsburgh she led me to what I think is a crystallized black castle from an evil version of Elsa from Frozen. With an ice rink in the middle. It was the PPG Place. A unique building and very beautiful glass reflections which created a sense of mystery. I wonder if the lights are completely turned off to see if the castle start to disappear in the dark.
Then I felt my stomach grumble. My friend and I walked 30 minutes to Pamela’s Diner, which is one of the best diners in Pittsburgh and definitely 20 out of 20 crocodiles would recommend.
Their food is filling and just tasted like your mother's home cook meal after a long day at school.
As we walked out with our fat bellies, rain started to pour. A little something about me is that I love rain. I love the sound, the smell and feeling the heavy downpour on my shoulders. It's a lot better when it rains during the summer because you feel cleansed. We walked back to the car and continued our adventure at her house.
For the rest of the night, we talked about our past and our long journey to our present. During the night, all I felt from her is pure positivity and happiness. She told me that she is doing something she really loves and helping people become their better selves. She also told about her happy relationship and whenever she says his name, she would always give off the biggest smile.
All I wanted to see during this trip is her and her family's smile.
As I board the bus to New York, halfway up the steps I stopped and smiled because I am surrounded by people who bring me joy.
Sometimes traveling doesn't have to be about going to places you haven't been to or discovering new things. Pittsburgh is about catching up to my friend and making sure that she and her family are doing well.